Dallas Mavericks: Dominique Jones

OT: Catching up with '11 champions

February, 24, 2014
Feb 24
8:00
AM CT
Keeping the powder dry didn’t pan out for the Dallas Mavericks.

Breaking up a championship team wasn't a popular decision by the Dallas front office at the time, to put it politely. And the Mavs brass’ CBA forecast is still easy fodder for critics more than two years later, with Dirk Nowitzki still the lone All-Star on the roster.

But Mark Cuban and Co. were absolutely right about one thing: Keeping that roster intact would have only guaranteed a large luxury-tax bill. All due respect to Tyson Chandler, who the Mavs will see Monday night at Madison Square Garden, but it’s delusional to believe that Dallas was denied a potential dynasty.

Peja Stojakovic, Jason Kidd and Brian Cardinal have retired. Rodrigue Beaubois and Dominique Jones can’t get NBA jobs. Brendan Haywood, an amnesty clause casualty in Dallas, is collecting checks in Charlotte while sitting out the season following foot surgery. Nowitzki and Shawn Marion -- who combine to make $32 million this season -- are the only 2011 champions who remain on the Mavs’ roster.

Here’s a look at what’s happened to the rest of the title team:

Tyson Chandler
Dallas departure: signed four-year, $55.4 million deal with the New York Knicks
Chandler was the finishing piece of the Mavs’ championship puzzle, but he’s an outstanding role player, not a star capable of being a centerpiece of a title contender. That’s evident by the fact that the Knicks, who feature a legitimate superstar in Carmelo Anthony, have won only one playoff series since signing Chandler in December 2011 and are a long shot to make the playoffs this season. Injuries have limited Chandler to 32 games this season, and he is averaging 8.7 points and 9.3 rebounds, numbers that certainly don’t justify a $14 million salary.

The Mavs declined to make Chandler a multiyear offer after the lockout, much less match the Knicks’ deal. That will always leave the Mavs’ front office open to a couple of second-guess hypotheticals: Could the Mavs have done a respectable job defending their title with Chandler anchoring the 2011-12 Dallas defense? By dangling Chandler, could Dallas have pulled off a blockbuster deal to land Dwight Howard instead of helplessly watching the Los Angeles Lakers use Andrew Bynum to get the league’s best big man in the summer of 2012?

Jason Terry
Dallas departure: signed three-year, $15.7 million deal with the Boston Celtics
Jet is a journeyman now, having been traded twice over the last eight months. His brief tenure with the Brooklyn Nets was an unmitigated failure, as the 36-year-old Terry averaged only 4.5 points on 36.2 percent shooting before being shipped to the NBA equivalent of Siberia. He’ll sit out the rest of the season instead of reporting to the Sacramento Kings. The hope is that focusing on rehabbing his left knee -- he apparently never fully recovered from summer surgery -- will allow Terry to contribute again next season. However, it’s painfully clear that Jet’s days as an elite bench scorer are over.

J.J. Barea
Dallas departure: signed four-year, $18 million contract with the Minnesota Timberwolves
Barea is a quality backup point guard, but that’s a steep price to pay for that type of player. Barea’s stats have dipped this season (8.7 PPG, 3.6 APG), but his contract is the primary reason Barea’s name was floated in trade rumors before the deadline.

Caron Butler
Dallas departure: signed three-year, $24 million deal with the Los Angeles Clippers
This was a crazy contract to give a then-31-year-old who was coming off a serious knee injury that ended his 2010-11 season on New Year’s Eve. Butler is a high-character guy, but he’s a low-efficiency offensive player at this point of his career. The Clippers insisted on including him in the three-team deal that sent Eric Bledsoe to the Phoenix Suns and Jared Dudley and J.J. Redick to the Clippers. The Bucks are stuck with an expensive part-time starter who is shooting less than 40 percent from the floor for the NBA’s worst team.

Corey Brewer
Dallas departure: traded to the Denver Nuggets along with Rudy Fernandez for a future second-round pick
The Mavs dumping Brewer’s reasonable salary before the 2011-12 season made little sense, considering Dallas needed all the energy and athleticism it could find on the cheap. The Mavs made creating salary-cap space their priority, but they could have easily found takers for Brewer the next summer if need be. However, the Dallas front office didn’t see a role for Brewer after signing Vince Carter. After a couple of quality seasons coming off the Nuggets’ bench, Brewer signed a three-year, $14.1 million deal to become the Minnesota Timberwolves’ starting small forward.

Ian Mahinmi
Dallas departure: signed four-year, $16 million deal with Indiana Pacers
If the Pacers were confident in Mahinmi, they wouldn’t have rolled the dice on Bynum. Mahinimi is averaging 3.2 points and 3.3 rebounds and making $4 million this season.

Sources: Mavs to sign PG Chris Wright

March, 10, 2013
3/10/13
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The Dallas Mavericks will fill their freshly-vacated 15th roster spot by calling up Iowa Energy point guard Chris Wright from the D-League, according to sources familiar with the decision.

Sources said Wright will receive a 10-day contract before Tuesday's game at Milwaukee to fill the opening created by Saturday's release of 2011 championship alumnus Dominique Jones.

Wright was a McDonald's All-American in high school and then starred at Georgetown before going unselected in the 2011 NBA draft. He went to training camp with the New Orleans Hornets in October and then joined the Energy after failing to stick.

The 6-foot-1, 210 pounder averaged 15.5 points, 7.0 assists and 4.3 rebounds in 37.0 minutes per game for Iowa, earning a spot in last month's D-League All-Star game in Houston.

In March 2012, Wright was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, but he has continued to play in the wake of the M.S. findings and was widely considered overdue for an NBA callup based on his development at the point.

Mavs eye D-League point guards

March, 10, 2013
3/10/13
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The Mavericks are likely to call up a point guard from the D-League to fill the vacant roster spot created by Dominique Jones' release, a source said.

Some potential fits for a 10-day deal in Dallas:

*Chris Wright: He’s averaging 15.5 points, 7.0 assists and 4.3 rebounds and 1.6 steals per game for the Iowa Energy. The 23-year-old Wright (6-foot-1, 210 pounds) starred in Turkey last season after going undrafted out of Georgetown.

*Ben Uzoh: The 6-foot-3, 205-pound Uzoh, who turns 25 this month, has 60 games of NBA experience, including a triple-double for the Raptors last season. He’s averaging 13.4 points, 5.7 assists and 4.6 rebounds for the Springfield Armor.

*Justin Dentmon: He’s a 27-year-old who has averaged 20.9 points and 4.4 assists in 125 career D-League games. Dentmon, who is back with the Texas Legends after a stint in Austin, is leading the D-League in scoring with 21.4 points per game this season but is shooting only 41.2 percent from the floor.

*Sean Singletary: The 6-foot, 185-pound Singletary, 27, is Dentmon’s teammate with the Texas Legends. He averages 13.5 points and 6.1 assists per game.

The Mavs will also keep a close eye on cuts around the league in case a player who they believe has some value becomes available.

Mavs waive 2010 first-round pick Jones

March, 9, 2013
3/09/13
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First-rounder Dominique Jones has been waived, the Dallas Mavericks announced Saturday afternoon.

Jones, a combo guard selected with the 25th pick in the 2010 draft, never made a significant impact for the Mavs. He averaged 3.1 points, 1.8 assists and 1.4 rebounds in 80 games, including four starts.

Sources told ESPN.com's Marc Stein that patience with Jones had been dwindling for some time. When the Mavs wanted to send Jones back to the D-League for another assignment with the Texas Legends in Frisco, sources said that Jones balked, prompting the team to let him go Saturday.

The reality is that Jones likely would have been the player cut by Dallas had it made a trade before the Feb. 21 trade deadline that required opening up a roster spot.

In October, the Mavs opted not to pick up the team option for next season in Jones’ rookie contract, making it clear that he didn’t fit in the franchise’s future plans.

Before being released, Jones was one of only four players remaining on the Mavs’ roster from the 2010-11 title team. Like Rodrigue Beaubois, Jones didn’t play a second in that postseason, but he did commemorate the championship by getting a large tattoo of the Larry O’Brien Trophy on his neck.

The Mavs’ roster stands at 14 players after Jones’ release.
DALLAS – The Mavericks are seven games below .500 and have nine players who will be free agents this summer, assuming O.J. Mayo decides to test the market instead of exercising the player option in his contract.

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That could be a recipe for some selfish, dysfunctional basketball the rest of this disappointing season. But coach Rick Carlisle not so subtly reminds the players that they better play the game the right way if they want to have the option of returning to Dallas.

“If you wanna write us off and all that kind of stuff, go ahead,” Carlisle said. “But I’ll just tell you this: This is a great situation in Dallas. The guys in the locker room that are all free agents, every second they step on the court, they’re auditioning for Donnie (Nelson) and Mark (Cuban) as to whether they’re going to have a chance to be here after this year.

“I’ve been in a lot of other situations over the years. I haven’t ever been in a better one than this”

Cuban, Nelson and Carlisle have had three-quarters of the season to evaluate players such as Mayo, Darren Collison, Chris Kaman and Elton Brand. Mike James, the 37-year-old D-League call-up, has been with the Mavs a couple of months. Brandan Wright has been here for almost two seasons, Dominique Jones nearly three years and Rodrigue Beaubois is wrapping up his fourth season. (Anthony Morrow is the exception, having played only four minutes for the Mavs so far.)

Can those free agents-to-be really change the Dallas decision-makers’ opinions of them in the final six weeks of the season?

“If I don’t believe that, then I’m not being open-minded enough to be in this position,” Carlisle said.

Brand, a veteran who has readily accepted being a reserve for the first time in his career, points out that a selfish player shouldn’t have a chance to showcase his skills for the rest of the season. A me-first man ought to ride pine.

“We don’t have room to think about the business aspect of it – me, me, me; I need to get shots,” Brand said. “We just have to go out there and play with the minutes given. As you see, coach is not going to allow someone to be selfish out there. You get minutes by your effort, you get minutes by how you play out there and how you affect the game. If you’re looking selfish out there, you’re not going to play.”
OKLAHOMA CITY – There was one morsel of good news Monday night for the Mavericks.

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Dirk Nowitzki reported that he felt fine in his return from a two-game layoff due to a strained right adductor, a muscle in the upper thigh. It was just hard to tell by the results, with Nowitzki scoring only 10 points on 3-of-11 shooting and grabbing only three rebounds in the Mavs’ blowout loss to the Thunder.

Nevertheless, Nowitzki said he felt “good” as far as his health was concerned.

[+] EnlargeDirk Nowitzki
Mark D. Smith/USA TODAY SportsDirk Nowitzki scored only 10 points on 3-of-11 shooting in the Mavs' blowout loss to the Thunder.
“I actually thought I was moving OK,” Nowitzki said. “That part was fine. I’ll obviously keep taking the meds and see how it is. The meds had some time to kick in over the weekend, so I felt fine out there.”

Nowitzki acknowledged Monday morning that the timing of his muscle pull “stinks.” He had just started to resemble the perennial All-Star he’d been for more than a decade, pouring in a season-high 26 points in Portland before the adductor acted up late in that game.

The rhythm that Nowitzki has finally generated is gone. He’ll have to try to get it going again, but it never happened against the Thunder, who have held him to an average of 12.3 points on 26.8 percent shooting in three OKC wins this season.

“His shooting numbers weren’t good, but I thought he moved well,” coach Rick Carlisle said. “We came up against a big-time opponent and we made too many mistakes. When that happens, nobody looks good.”

Added Nowitzki: “I’m going to keep pushing. I’m going to keep getting better.”

A few more notes from the Mavs’ league-high ninth loss by at least 20 points:

1. Perkins makes another Mavs friend: You can add rookie forward Jae Crowder to the list of men who have worn Mavericks uniforms and angered Oklahoma City center Kendrick Perkins.

Perkins, who invented a rivalry with Tyson Chandler during the 2011 West finals and got into a heated confrontation with Nowitzki and Carlisle during last year’s first round, drew a technical foul after barking in Crowder’s face during the second quarter.

The drama started after Crowder committed the apparently unforgivable act of hitting a jumper over Perkins. According to Crowder, Perkins responded with a colorful phrase that included some expletives, which Crowder repeated as a response.

When play stopped after the next possession, Perkins marched from under the basket to near the free throw line to continue the conversation in close proximity. O.J. Mayo took up to his rookie teammate, hollering at Perkins for several seconds during the timeout.

“All it was was him trying to intimidate me,” Crowder said. “That’s him.”

2. Mavs missed Carter: Sixth man Vince Carter watched the game in the locker room because he was sick. One can only imagine how he felt while watching the Thunder seize control late in the first quarter, when he typically enters the game.

“When we substituted, we struggled,” Carlisle said. “Not having Vince out there was a big factor, but we’ve got to play better, too.”

The Mavs hope Carter will be able to play Wednesday against the Portland Trail Blazers.

3. Season highs in stinker: It will surely get overshadowed in the aftermath of a blowout loss, but Shawn Marion and Dominique Jones each set season highs in scoring.

Marion had 23 points on 10-of-14 shooting despite sitting out the entire fourth quarter. Jones dominated garbage time, scoring 12 of his 15 points in the fourth. Jones was 5-of-8 from the floor in 14 minutes.

It was somewhat newsworthy that Jones was on the floor at all. He played a grand total of 53 seconds in the entire month of January.
DALLAS – The 25-year-old point guard drifted in and out of the starting lineup, often an easy target for frustrated Mavericks fans and media -- not to mention his coach -- during a losing season.

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Steve Nash turned out to be a pretty darn good player after that experience.

That’s not necessarily to compare Darren Collison to Nash. It’s simply using one of the best point guards of this generation – and a foundation piece of the Mavs’ rise from longtime laughingstock to legitimate contender – to illustrate how much a point guard can improve in his mid-20s.

However, if you’re curious, Collison’s numbers this season compare extremely favorably to Nash’s in 1990-2000, when the future Hall of Famer was frequently booed during his second season in Dallas.

Collison’s averages this season: 12.9 points on .483 shooting, 5.2 assists, 2.3 turnovers and 1.5 steals.

Nash’s numbers in 1999-00: 8.6 points on .477 shooting, 4.9 assists, 1.8 turnovers and 0.7 steals.

[+] EnlargeRick Carlisle
Nelson Chenault/US PresswireDarren Collision has looked like a much more confident point guard since returning to the starting lineup.
Nash’s numbers took a major leap in the final month of that season, when the perennially miserable Mavs finished strong to end up 40-42, jump-starting the Mark Cuban era. We might be witnessing Collison turning the corner now, when the Mavs still have time to salvage a playoff berth out of what’s been a disappointing season so far.

Collison, who had the challenge of learning a new system while running the offense on a newcomer-loaded roster, has looked like a much more comfortable, confident point guard since regaining his starting job after Derek Fisher returned to his rocking chair and the one-game Dominique Jones experiment ended.

In the last 14 games, Collison’s points (15.5), assists (5.5) and shooting percentages (.530 on field goals and .536 on 3-pointers) are up and his turnovers (1.8) are down.

“He’s gotten better and better,” coach Rick Carlisle said.

Yet Carlisle still won’t commit to using Collison to close games, often turning to a 37-year-old man on a 10-day contract in clutch situations. Mike James helped the Mavs close out wins recently against the Kings and Rockets and was on the floor for the final minutes of regulation and all of overtime in a loss to the Thunder.

The decision on who plays point guard in crunch time will be made on a game-to-game basis, according to Carlisle. The coach appreciates James’ veteran presence and physical defense. Truth be told, Carlisle must have trust issues with Collison, whose struggles have contributed to the Mavs being 8-17 in games that were within three points in the final minute.

The mild-mannered Collison isn’t one to complain – and Carlisle points out that the starting point guard enthusiastically cheers when he’s riding pine in crunch time – but he admits that it bothers him to sit with the game on the line. His approach is to try to prove with his performance that he can help the Mavs win, which is exactly what he did by drilling a clutch corner 3 in the final minute of Sunday’s win in Orlando.

“I’ll fight,” said Collison, who is on his third team in four seasons and will be a restricted free agent this summer. “I’ll keep fighting. I’m very resilient. And I’m understanding. If it’s not my time, or if coach goes in a different direction, then I understand that. I can only play hard for the minutes I get. … I sure believe when I get my opportunity again, I’m going to make sure that I make the most of my chances.”

Added Carlisle: “We were in here Saturday practicing and I talked to him about end-of-the-game stuff and I said this is something that’s going to be on me to decide who finishes. Keep doing the good things you’re doing and you’re going to be in these situations a lot. I just know that. And sure enough, that’s how it turned out on Sunday.”

While Carlisle’s commitment to Collison as a starter has wavered, the coach deserves credit for Collison’s development this season.

Carlisle has invested countless hours in working individually with Collison, as well as his 25-year-old backcourt partner O.J. Mayo. The guards spend most mornings getting grilled by Carlisle in film sessions or on the floor shooting with him.

Dirk Nowitzki has made a point several times to mention that he's proud of the way the young guards have responded to Carlisle's hard coaching. As Collison said, players with thick skin prosper under Carlisle.

“We’ve had a lot of tough love from coach,” Collison said. “Coach has been in our face from Day 1. It’s all about a learning experience. He just wants us to get better. He just wants us to continue to improve. Rick is going to tell us like it is. He’s going to be honest with us. It’s the reason why we’re improving every day.”

How much better can Collison get? A certain Maverick from the recent past proved it can be tough to predict a point guard's ceiling sometimes.

Buzz: Rick Carlisle mum on starting center plans

January, 20, 2013
1/20/13
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ORLANDO, Fla. – Coming off a season-best outing in minutes played and rebounds, there was talk that Elton Brand could supplant Chris Kaman as the Mavericks’ starting center Sunday night against the Orlando Magic.

But coach Rick Carlisle, who has employed 15 different starting lineups during the first 41 games of the season, resisted making a change -- for the moment.

Brand had 10 points and 13 rebounds in 36 minutes off the bench Friday night in the Mavs’ 117-114 overtime loss to Oklahoma City, compared to six points and three rebounds in 16 minutes for Kaman. Brand’s defense, as illustrated by his blocked shot late in the fourth quarter of a tie game Wednesday night against Houston, is a big reason why Carlisle has gone with him over Kaman during crunch time.

Carlisle was tight-lipped when asked before the game whether he would make the switch. Although Brand’s and Kaman’s numbers for January are almost identical, it’s Brand who has consecutive double-doubles on the heels of a 20-point performance in a win over Minnesota.

Dirk Nowitzki made his ninth start in a row. Although he hasn’t had a dominant performance after missing the first 27 games following arthroscopic surgery on his right knee, he has had two straight strong fourth quarters.

“He continues to make progress,” Carlisle said. “He’s not all the way there. Coming out of the all-star break – that would be a realistic period of time to where he’ll be back to where he’s going to be.”

Guard Dominique Jones, who had been inactive for four of the last five games, was added to the 12-man roster. To make room for him, guard Rodrigue Beaubois was placed on the inactive list.
How privileged has Dirk Nowitzki been when it comes to point guards?

There are now five members of the 10,000-assist club. Nowitzki spent the majority of his career playing with two of them.

Nowitzki spent his first six seasons with Steve Nash, who has 10,005 assists after hitting the milestone in the Lakers’ loss last night. Nash dropped 797 regular-season dimes to Dirk, according to research done by ESPN Stats and Information.

Nowitzki spent four and a half seasons with Jason Kidd, who ranks behind only John Stockton in NBA history with 11,969 assists and counting. Kidd fed Nowitzki for 753 buckets.

The other members of the 10,000-assist club are Mark Jackson and Magic Johnson.

The four point guards currently on the Mavs’ roster have a total of 3,686 career assists: Mike James (1,919), Darren Collison (1,291), Rodrigue Beaubois (336) and Dominique Jones (140).

Mike James is a poor man's Derek Fisher

January, 7, 2013
1/07/13
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The Mavericks miss Derek Fisher despite Darren Collison’s impressive production since the savvy old point guard’s sudden departure from Dallas.

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Marc Stein of ESPN.com joins Ben and Skin to talk about Dirk Nowitzki's current mindset.

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That’s why the Mavs agreed to a 10-day deal Monday with 37-year-old point guard Mike James.

“Looking for the closest thing to Derek Fisher out there,” a Mavs source said.

That doesn’t mean Collison will lose his starting job again. He shouldn’t. And not just because Collison has played pretty well since Fisher’s exit, averaging 16.3 points, 5.3 assists and 1.8 turnovers while shooting 53.3 percent from the floor while starting the last six games.

James, unlike Fisher, hasn’t been a starting point guard in the league for a long time. He last started for a 19-win Washington team in 2008-09. James, who has career averages of 10.4 points and 3.6 assists, has played a total of 15 NBA games in the last three-plus seasons.

James, who scored 26 points on 10-of-20 shooting in a blowout win Saturday during his D-League audition with the Texas Legends, might be able to help the Mavs with his veteran savvy. Perhaps he’s a better option as a backup point guard than Rodrigue Beaubois and Dominique Jones.

But a poor man’s Derek Fisher definitely shouldn’t take minutes away from Collison.
Our weekly look at which Mavs stocks have risen and fallen the most:

Streaking
STOCK UP

Darren Collison We could have gone with Dirk Nowitzki, who looked a lot more Dirk-like over the last two games, but there was never any doubt that the big German would eventually work his way back into form. There was plenty of doubt about Collison after the Mavs gave up on him as their starting point guard less than a fifth of the way into the season. The only reason he got his job back is because Derek Fisher decided to return to his rocking chair, and it still took coach Rick Carlisle a couple of games to commit to Collison over Dominique Jones. In five games since then, Collison has averaged 17.2 points, 5.4 assists and only 1.8 turnovers while shooting 51.5 percent from the floor and hitting half of his 3-point attempts. It’s still quite a stretch to envision Collison in the Mavs’ long-term plans, but he deserves credit for being professional and productive in a situation that would have prompted a lot of players to pout.

Slumping
STOCK DOWN

Dominique Jones – DoJo seems to have landed in the doghouse that Carlisle claims doesn’t exist. Jones has played a grand total of 12 minutes over the last four games, losing the backup point guard role to Rodrigue Beaubois and falling out of the rotation. Maybe it’s just a coincidence, but the swift decline in Jones’ playing time occurred around the time that Carlisle admitted screaming in the faces of a couple of players at practices and shootarounds. When Carlisle made that public admission, he threatened suspending players who continued to fail to execute their responsibilities. Carlisle backed off that a couple of days later, surely knowing he’d face the wrath of the NBA players association if he followed through on the threat, but the NBAPA can’t stop him from banishing players to the end of the bench. Jones didn’t take off his warmups during the Mavs’ two-game road trip.

Rapid Reaction: Nuggets 106, Mavs 85

December, 28, 2012
12/28/12
9:53
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How it happened: The Dallas Mavericks fell behind early and never could quite catch up in Dirk Nowitzki's home debut for the 2012-13 season.

The Nuggets dominated Dallas on the boards and the Mavericks' defense did not have an answer for Danilo Gallinari, especially from outside. Gallinari had a career-high 39 points, including 7-for-11 from outside the 3-point stripe. He had 13 of those points in the third quarter, when Denver built a 17-point lead by the end of the frame. Andre Iguodala added 20 points and hit four 3-pointers in that third quarter.

Dallas couldn't handle the Nuggets on the boards, either. They were outrebounded 60 to 43 in the game and Denver had a 52-34 point-in-the-paint advantage.

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It was a better night for O.J. Mayo, who had struggled mightily in the previous four games. After scoring just 29 points combined in the previous four games, Mayo had 15 points Friday. He still had a few rough spots, but was much improved. But he didn't get much help and the Mavericks couldn't get enough stops in the second half to make it interesting.

Nowitzki received a huge ovation (about half of the fans even stood for him) when he entered the game with 5:27 left in the first quarter. But by the time Nowitzki touched the ball, it was 21-8 Denver. The Nuggets went on a 15-2 run prior to Nowitzki getting in the game, along with Vince Carter and Elton Brand.

Nowitzki, who didn't wear a sleeve on his right knee (he wore one Thursday in Oklahoma City), struggled to find his rhythm and scored just five points (all in the first quarter) on 2-for-10 shooting. He played only 17 minutes as the game got out of hand in the second half.

The Mavericks went on a 10-0 run midway through the second quarter to cut into Denver's 15-point lead. Dallas ended up on a 19-6 run that cut the deficit to two points with about four minutes left in the half. But the Mavs didn't get any closer as the Nuggets ended up leading by eight at the break.

Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle was frustrated enough that he called a timeout with a little more than three minutes left in the game (it was an 18-point Denver lead at the time) even though he didn't have any timeouts. He got the timeout, but it was charged as a team technical and the Nuggets got a free throw and the ball.

What it means: Dallas (12-18) has lost a season-high five consecutive games (all to teams that were in the playoffs last season) and eight of its last nine games to fall six games under .500. The Mavs haven't done that in the Mark Cuban era since his first half-season with the club (April 2000). The five-game losing streak is the longest for the Mavs since they lost six consecutive games in January of 2011. Nowitzki missed four of those games and Tyson Chandler missed the other two.

Play of the game: The final 5.9 seconds of the first half altered momentum a bit heading into the locker room. With Denver only up by three points, Gallinari hit a 3-pointer and then made a put-back dunk as time expired following a Carter turnover. Carter made a bad pass and Andre Miller stole it and passed it to Ty Lawson, who missed a 3-pointer, but Gallinari was there for the last-second dunk. Just like that, it was an eight-point lead for the Nuggets at the half.

Stat of the night: Nuggets forward Kenneth Faried had nine points and 11 rebounds in the first quarter, helping Denver to an 11-point lead. The Mavericks had eight rebounds as a team in the quarter. Faried had six defensive rebounds and five offensive rebounds in the quarter.
DALLAS – How much does Rick Carlisle miss Derek Fisher?

Well, he brought up the dearly departed 38-year-old point guard’s name without any prompting Wednesday afternoon, mentioning how important Fisher was to the Mavs. Carlisle then told a heart-tugging tale about the fuel tank in his SUV and Fisher’s brief tenure in Dallas.

“I filled it up with diesel the day he arrived and the day he left I had to go back to the gas station,” Carlisle said. "He lasted one tank of fuel in my vehicle. So, it was three weeks. And diesels get better mileage.

“It was metaphorically prophetic that as that needle was going down in my gas gauge, so was the time that he was going to be here. So that was a big loss.”

You won’t hear Carlisle say this, but his confidence in the point guards remaining on the Mavs’ roster is on E.

Of course, that was made obvious when the Mavs recruited Fisher off the couch. At this point, the Mavs’ starting point guard is a mystery.

Pressed on the issue, Carlisle sarcastically asked for my opinion Wednesday. The suggestion of Delonte West didn’t seem to go over too well.

“That’s not on the table,” Carlisle said.

Darren Collison and Dominique Jones are on the table. Rodrigue Beaubois is a wild card, or perhaps a joker.

“Look, we’ve got three guys that have all done good things,” Carlisle said, trying to put a positive spin on the situation. “We just need to keep going forward and keep getting those guys better, and I think Dirk being back on the floor certainly enhances everybody’s opportunity to play better.”

Collison and Jones have both started one game since Fisher’s sudden exit – and they both performed better coming off the bench. Carlisle indicated that he’s ready to pick one or the other to start on a regular basis, but he declined to give any hints on which one it would be.

“I would say that at this point – how many games have we played? – I’m starting to get a feel as to who the guy is probably going to be,” Carlisle said. “I’m going to give myself one more night to sleep on it.”

UPDATE: Collison started against the Thunder.

Q&A: Bloom and doom for Mavericks

December, 26, 2012
12/26/12
11:22
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Tim MacMahon and Bryan Gutierrez of ESPN TrueHoop Network's The Two Man Game conducted a Q&A on the state of the Mavericks. Here's their differing perspectives:

Thinking ahead and knowing what we know now, how far should the Mavericks be willing to extend themselves when it comes to trying to keep O.J. Mayo in the mix for years to come?

MacMahon: We don’t know enough. Never mind what we do and don’t know about Mayo. How will this season play out with Dwight Howard in Los Angeles? Will he be the scapegoat for the Lakers’ failures and looking to leave L.A. this summer? If so, the Mavs will probably be at the top of his list, and they need to make sure they can offer him a max contract. That probably means there won’t be room for Mayo, unless they can find a taker for Shawn Marion without getting anything in return that counts against the cap this summer. Having said all that, I like Mayo a lot. He’s probably not as good as the guy who ranked among the NBA’s top 10 scorers for most of this season, but he’s better than he showed during his Memphis tenure. I think he can be the third-best player on a championship contender. He’s probably a $10 million per year player. If the Mavs aren’t in the big-fish market this summer and can get Mayo at that price, they ought to do it.

Gutierrez: Tim does bring up a good point with Howard and the possibility he could hit the open market. The thing is, I can’t see the Lakers failing, meaning they don’t make noise in the playoffs. The only way I can see that is if Steve Nash makes this the year he breaks down. Even with that, I still think the Lakers would commit to Howard and make Pau Gasol the fall guy. I think the idea of Howard coming to Dallas is still a reach. The way that Mayo has approached this season has been very refreshing to watch. He says and does the right thing, minus the turnovers. To me, it seems like he truly wants to learn and take that next step and develop into a player who can have an impact on a team with championship aspirations. If the Mavericks come away this season with O.J. Mayo as a major piece for the future, one who can continue to be groomed, I see that as a step in the right direction. In regards to the money, I think $8 million is extremely favorable for the team, but somewhere around $10-11 million is more realistic and a number that both sides could be happy with. The Mavericks are very high on Mayo’s upside.

What do the Mavericks do with Darren Collison?

Gutierrez: If the Mavericks needed Derek Fisher to groom Darren Collison, where exactly does that put them now with Fisher gone? Dominique Jones is still extremely raw as a point guard, but he actually does a better job of giving the Mavericks what they need. The Mavericks gave up a piece they didn’t feel they needed in Ian Mahinmi to acquire Collison. In retrospect, the troubling part of that deal is that the throwaway piece in the deal, Dahntay Jones, has been the better acquisition. This is a make or break season for him as he needs to show he can be a starting caliber point guard. At this point in the season, he simply hasn’t gotten it done. There is still a chance for him as Dirk Nowitzki returns. If Collison can mesh well with Dirk in terms of carving teams up with pick-and-pops, then he still has a chance. At this point, he seems like a more developed Roddy Beaubois. If the Mavericks can turn him into a polished J.J. Barea, they’ll take it. The jury is still out on if he can get to that level.

MacMahon: Well, they should start by taking down that billboard off I-35 that declares that Collison isn’t a starting-caliber point guard. Oh, that billboard never actually went up? Might as well have when they recruited Derek Fisher off the rocking chair to “mentor” Collison. What a crock of bull that bit was. Rick Carlisle needed about a fifth of the season to determine that Collison couldn’t do what he demands out of his starting point guards despite being a pretty good scorer. Collison just isn’t a good enough decision maker or defensive player for Carlisle to have any confidence in him. Then again, the other point guards on the roster have even bigger warts. We’ll keep chronicling As the Point Guards Turn this season, but who really cares which point guard starts for the Mavs? It’s a problem position that desperately needs to be addressed this summer. Collison clearly isn’t the answer, so ultimately what the Mavs will do with him is wish him good luck at his next stop, which will be his fourth team in five years.

As January comes and the trade deadline slowly approaches, should the Mavericks be buyers or sellers at the trade deadline?

MacMahon: They need to either be sellers or spectators. What assets do the Mavs have that other teams would want? O.J. Mayo is the obvious answer, but he’s the only guy on the roster without a no-trade clause in his $80 million contract who I don’t think the Mavs should shop. That’s because he’s the only dude other than Dirk who I believe can be an impact player on a contender in a couple of years if the Mavs pull off a rebuilding miracle. They should aggressively try to deal Shawn Marion to a contender for expiring contract(s) and perhaps a pick. That’s not a knock at all on Matrix, who will always be a hero in Dallas for his postseason defensive work on Kobe Bryant, Kevin Durant and LeBron James, and can still help a good team. It’s just that cap space is more valuable for the rebuilding Mavs than a role player who turns 35 in May. I can’t see any deal materializing that would be worth the Mavs sacrificing their beloved financial flexibility.

Gutierrez: With Dirk officially back, this will be something to monitor over the next 2-3 weeks. If the Mavericks are buyers, I would expect them to be opportunistic and find a piece that allows them to remain flexible for the future. Outside of O.J. Mayo, Darren Collison and Chris Kaman, the Mavericks really don’t have a lot in terms of appealing pieces. Shawn Marion is an intriguing piece. It’s hard to imagine seeing him get dealt, but it would give the Mavericks more cap space to work with going forward. I doubt Marion wants a change of scenery, but you can see that he’s been frustrated with how this season has played out. He’s been more of a leader on the floor and also been more vocal. His constant discussion of butts being whooped and guys needing to step up expresses that frustration. A contender might find an interest in him, but the market will be very limited if the Mavericks want to go down that road. Even with their history of being active at the deadline, the odds are looking more likely that they’ll be spectators.

Is the Roddy Beaubois era on its last legs?

Gutierrez: The Free Roddy B. movement created a lot of buzz and hype during the 2009-10 season. Roddy’s rookie shooting percentages from the field (.518), 3-point range (.409) and free throws (.808) are long gone. Roddy has seen setback after setback with injuries. His entire second season, the year the Mavericks won it all, was essentially a wash because he missed a majority of it recovering from foot surgery. He has been such a frustrating player to watch. With all of the injuries piling up, you have to wonder where his confidence level is at. With Roddy being a restricted free agent this offseason, one has to wonder if a change of scenery will do him some good. A fresh start in a new place, likely not a great one, looks like the projected next move. It’s a shame it hasn’t been able to work here.

MacMahon: It’s on his last legs with a broken foot that will require two operations to fix. The Mavs made a serious mistake not selling high on Roddy B. after his flashes-of-brilliance rookie season. In hindsight, it’s hilarious that Mark Cuban labeled Beaubois “untouchable” unless an in-his-prime perennial All-Star was the return. Remember Donnie Nelson bragging that the Mavs turned down an offer of a lottery pick for Roddy B. the night of the next draft? You reckon, oh, say Paul George might help the Mavs these days. Oh, well. It’s painfully obvious that Beaubois needs a change of scenery if he’s ever going to tap into his talent. He’s been unbelievably ineffective in his limited playing time this season. Just look at those shooting percentages (.308 from the floor and .214 from 3-point range). His confidence is obviously shattered. Maybe he can be a poor man’s Jet for someone else, but he’s definitely not going to be Dallas’ point guard of the future. Or present, for that matter.

What can possibly save the Mavericks this season?

MacMahon: Um, is there any way a midseason lockout might wipe away the rest of the season? In all seriousness, the best-case short-term scenario would be the worst-case long-term scenario. In other words, the last thing this franchise needs is to miraculously ride the big German’s back into one of the West’s last playoff seeds. Other than extending the playoff streak, it’d do the Mavs absolutely no good whatsoever to get swept in the first round by the Thunder again. And it’d be even more painful if the Spurs are swinging the broom. Even though this draft supposedly sucks, the Mavs would be best off taking their chance with lottery ping pong balls. That would at least force the front office to come to the harsh realization that this franchise is very much in rebuilding mode.

Gutierrez: The thing that could change the course for the Mavericks is having it all finally click. With Dirk back, this is the first time they’ve had everyone together. Rick Carlisle will have to coach his butt off, even more than he’s done now, to find to make it all fit into place. If the Mavericks figure it out, they would be primed to peak at the right time, heading towards a playoff push. That’s all they’re really shooting for, at this point. If Dirk is healthy, that makes them a threat. It’s funny how sports can work. Outside of the Heat and Thunder last year, no matter the sport, it’s felt like the team that gets hot at the right time ends up winning the championship. We’ll have to see if last year was an aberration or the start of a new trend where regular season excellence is sustained over the long haul. An aberration definitely favors Dallas’ chances. That being said, the organization does need to start preparing to fully rebuild. They’re going to look do so in the hardest way possible: without hitting rock bottom. It’ll be interesting to see what Mark Cuban, Donnie Nelson and Rick Carlisle can come up with.
First, the good news: Dirk Nowitzki said his right knee felt fine after his first game of the season.

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Sounds like he has a heck of a headache, though.

The Mavericks’ flaws were on full display in a 129-91 loss to the San Antonio Spurs that featured a terrible 20/20: 20 3-pointers allowed and 20 turnovers committed.

Nowitzki had grown accustomed to playing on a smart, savvy team. That description simply doesn’t fit these Mavs, which is why they signed the since-departed 38-year-old point guard Derek Fisher in the first place.

Nowitzki is used to having the Hall of Fame brain of Jason Kidd running the show. Now, he’ll have to get used to working with young point guards Darren Collison and Dominique Jones.

“Our basketball IQ obviously went down a little bit with J-Kidd leaving,” Nowitzki told reporters in San Antonio. “I think that’s pretty obvious.

“We don’t make the right play on defense. I don’t think that’s selfishness. Maybe we don’t react quick enough or maybe it’s not natural enough to the guys yet, all the calls, the switching of coverages. You’ve got to pay attention; you’ve got to be smart out there. ...

“Offensively, our decision-making has been brutal. We’re averaging 20 [turnovers] a night. It’s impossible to win, especially on the road.”

Um, welcome back, Dirk.

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TEAM LEADERS

POINTS
Dirk Nowitzki
PTS AST STL MIN
21.7 2.7 0.9 32.9
OTHER LEADERS
ReboundsD. Nowitzki 6.2
AssistsM. Ellis 5.7
StealsM. Ellis 1.7
BlocksB. Wright 0.9